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UPDATED: Soil cleanup for new art gallery could cost millions

City of Thunder Bay is responsible for a portion of the remediation measures.
Thunder Bay Art Gallery New Design 3
An artist's conception of the new Thunder Bay Art Gallery at Prince Arthur's Landing

THUNDER BAY — Thunder Bay city council is expected to find out in April how much it will cost to clean up the former waterfront industrial site where the new Thunder Bay Art Gallery will be built.

An administration report three years ago estimated the cost of mitigating the risks posed by contaminated soil will range between $250,000 and nearly $6 million.

The cost will be shared by the city and the art gallery, but it's not yet known how the cost will break down.

Before the estimate is finalized, the city needs the provincial environment ministry to approve its Risk Assessment, and to issue a Certificate of Property Use which the province requires for the redevelopment of brownfield properties.

The city submitted a draft RA of the site to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks last year.

After the ministry requested revisions, an amended assessment was submitted in October 2019.

The RA is not publicly available yet, as the ministry is seeking clarification of some of the data the city provided in the document.

Once the ministry's requirements are met, administration will prepare a new report containing a more precise cost for any necessary mitigation measures.

The 2017 report placed the cost of soil remediation at $5,700,000 at the high end, and $250,000 at the low end.

The higher figure assumed total excavation, removal and replacement of soil.

The lower figure assumed minimal remediation activity would be required.

In an interview in October, Thunder Bay Art Gallery executive-director Sharon Godwin said the length of the environmental assessment process "wasn't completely anticipated...there's no question about that."

Godwin added, however, that "there are no red flags."

Construction of the new gallery can't begin until all approvals are received.

Work could still begin this summer, but the original tentative goal of a 2021 opening date will be pushed back to as late as 2023.

The delay appears to have had little impact on fundraising, as about $30 million of the $33 million required has been committed. 

That includes a $5 million contribution from the City of Thunder Bay.

Clarification:  An earlier version of this story neglected to clarify that the city and the art gallery will share the cost of remediation.




Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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